|The use of commas where unnecessary
is as awkward as the absence of commas where necessary.
So you can't always carry a
handwriting book around with you, right? Well, here's something you can
carry around for a while: index cards.
An excellent way to avoid comma
errors is to write down on an index card the basic comma functions and
then read them when waiting in line somewhere, anywhere: a stoplight, a
bank, the grocery, the doctor, the dentist, a fast food drive through,
a class to begin, the snack bar, etc. How often do we find ourselves waiting
in line for something? How easily can we stick a few index cards in a shirt
Try it a couple of times or
more every other day or so and you'll begin to establish far more familiarity
with comma functions, which you can use to better determine when to use
commas and when not to use them.
Let's see: what are some basic
functions that commas fulfill in typical, formal expository writing?
At the end of introductory dependent
John loves eating enchiladas,
but Marsha finds them distasteful.
Lennie returned to consciousness,
but the police had not arrived.
To separate items in a series
(a series = 3 + ):
When I looked up into the sky,
the sun blinded me!
If I find Carlos, I'll
George grows eggplants, corn,
radishes, and mushrooms.
Biology, math, and English
are my most favorite subjects.
Looking at the ground,
Bubba ran into a tree.
Without knowing why or how,
I lifted the end of the car from the ground.
On the other hand, there
are five fingers.
Jayne speaks harshly of Jorge.
For example, she says he's as wortheless as a turtle with
She wrote a formal, expository
Juanita fell from a tall,
poorly built ladder.
John, who graduated from school
in 1978, will be the featured speaker.
Uvalde, famous for its spaghetti
trees, is located in the Hill Country.
Setting off both ends of a year
when used with day/month, or a state when used with a city name (unless
item comes at end of sentence):
Like Albert says, "America
is a land of promise, especially during a political campaign!"
Leonard Johnson writes,
"Now is the time for all good citizens to come forward in agreement."
September 11, 2001, is
a date we will never forget.
Dallas, Texas, is the official
home of the Dallas Cowboys.